H-1B Visas

The H-1B temporary worker visa allows foreign nationals to work in the United States in a specialty occupation.

  • Applicants must have theoretical and practical application of a highly specialized body of knowledge.
  • The available position must require (and applicant must have) a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
  • The H-1B is an employer-sponsored visa, and therefore requires UVA to file the visa petition. Prospective employees cannot obtain H-1B visas without UVA sponsorship.

Six-Year Maximum Length of Stay

  • H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total stay of six years, including time spent in H-1B status with another employer.
  • Employers may initially request a period of up to three years in the application for an H-1B, and then extensions up to the six-year limit.
  • Many foreign nationals who previously held J-1 or J-2 visa status may not be eligible for H-1B status or to pursue permanent residence in the U.S. because of a two-year home residency requirement. For more information on the two-year home residency requirement, please visit the International Studies Office website.
  • The six-year limit is strictly enforced, with some exceptions:

    • Foreign nationals may be eligible for an extension beyond the six year H-1B maximum if they have progressed to a certain stage in the application process for permanent residency.

      Please contact Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services (HRCIS) to determine if you are eligible for this benefit.

    • It is possible to reset the six-year H-1B limit after the individual has spent one year or more outside the U.S.

Compliance Issues for Departments

The employee’s department is responsible for reporting any changes to the working conditions of the H-1B employee to HRCIS. If the change is judged to be substantial, it may require the filing of an amended H-1B petition with USCIS. An amended petition must be submitted to USCIS before the change goes into effect. Changes that should be reported include, but are not limited to

  • promotion or other change in job title or rank
  • change in job duties/responsibilities
  • increase or decrease in salary or benefits
  • change in work location or hours of work

Paying H-1B Visa Holders from other Institutions

The University is not permitted to make honoraria payments to H-1B visa holders from other institutions. Individuals in the U.S. on a H-1B are only permitted to receive payments from their sponsoring institution(s). No exceptions will be made.


H-4 Dependent Status

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for H-4 dependent status.

Generally, H-4 dependents are not authorized to work in the U.S., but may attend school full-time or part-time. They are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) if the H-1B visa holder

  • is engaged in the Legal Permanent Residency petition process, and
  • has an approved I-140 or an extended H-1B status beyond six years (based on a PERM labor certification or I-140 pending for at least 365 days).

Family members living outside the U.S. when an H-1B petition is approved do not need to submit an I-539 application to USCIS to obtain H-4 status. Family members should, instead, apply for an H-4 visa stamp at the U.S. consulate abroad. Consult the relevant U.S. consulate website for specific application requirements.

Family members who live in the U.S. and want to change or extend H-4 status should complete form I-539 and submit it to HRCIS along with the primary H-1B application materials.

The foreign national is generally responsible for all fees associated with the H-4 process.


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